Saving on Household Supplies and Groceries

How much you spend is one of the few things you can still control in today’s unpredictable economy and, contrary to what you may think, reducing spending on grocery and household products does not have to affect your standard of living.

Food spending is often the last item of its budget that a family decides to limit. Somehow, we feel that being frugal when it comes to buying food is a sign of abject poverty. Many families decide to curb spending in other areas (clothing, vacations and even education) before they finally make a serious effort to save on grocery bills.

Household items like cleaning supplies, pet care, baby care and healthcare products (toothpaste, shampoo, Kleenex, makeup etc) are another area where you can make huge savings. This article will show you some ways that you can cut back on spending in these two areas – without affecting your lifestyle.

* Generic versus Brand Name Products: You can save considerably on household supplies and food products by buying generic or store-label goods. Take the time to compare the unit price, ingredients and nutritional information of generic products with those of brand names. The same companies often make both the brand-name products and the generic and store-label goods. The company that makes Bird’s Eye frozen vegetables also produces store-label frozen vegetables – at a fraction of the price.

* Keep Track of Grocery Store Sale Cycles: This needs a little practice, and it is easier to do if you write down prices for the first few weeks. The point is to recognize the rock-bottom prices for most items, so that you can wait and not buy an item the first time it is on sale. For example, seasonal items are on sale more frequently than cereals, soft drinks and other popular goods. Also, as their ‘sell-by’ dates approach, food products (dairy, baked goods, meat) are regularly discounted by at least 50%. Sell-by dates are not the same as expiration dates and purchasing these products does not mean that you are obliged to use them immediately.

* Drop into discount grocers and join warehouse clubs: Discount grocers like Save-A-Lot sell mostly store-label products and the great value on pantry staples you get at warehouse clubs makes the membership fee worthwhile.

* Coupons: By using free grocery coupons in combination with the above methods, you can, at least, double your savings. To get the most out of your grocery coupons, you have to approach couponing in an organized manner.

– Coupons are definitely making a comeback. Many more options are available for accessing grocery coupons today, including online coupons and services that let you load coupons to your cell phones or unto your store shopping card. You can also print coupons at coupon kiosks inside stores. If you shop at Marsh Supermarkets and Giant Eagle stores, you can swipe your shopping card at an in-store kiosk to get coupons based on how much business you provide and current store offers.

– Types of free grocery coupons include: Manufacturer’s Coupons (distributed by manufacturers to promote their products), Store-Specific Coupons (valid at specific grocery stores), Combination Coupons (valid only for the purchase of multiple items from a list of products), Rebate Coupons (to redeem these, you need to mail them in with a proof of purchase and receipt).

– In addition to weekly papers and in-store offerings, you can get online printable grocery coupons at store and company websites, as well as by registering at specialized websites listing hundreds of free printable coupons.

– A few pointers you should be aware of in order to use coupons to the best advantage: always try to combine sales with coupons; do not use a coupon if it does not provide the most savings. For example, figure out whether it is more advantageous to use a coupon for a brand-name item or to buy the store-label or generic equivalent (use your calculator if you have to).

– Use coupons that are discounted with your shopper’s card. Use your coupon in combination with ‘2-for’ sales and shop on double coupon days when stores, essentially, give you duplicate free coupons.

– Check your store’s coupons policies before you start shopping. Either stop at the customer service counter, or call the store. Most stores accept Internet coupons, though some still do not. Ask whether the store will double the coupon even it exceeds the face value of the item.

By getting organized, educating yourself about grocery coupons and using them in combination with rebates, store sales, discount grocers and the other methods explained above, you will definitely cut down on your grocery and household supply bills.

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